Our Audi R8 Spyder has a hole in its tank!

Published: 01 November 2019

► Our new fleet flagship!
► V10 drop-top over the summer
► Jake is one very lucky boy

Month 3 living with an R8 Spyder: fuel light bingo

How low can I go? So far, 9.2mpg on one particular trip, though I'm daring myself to get that figure lower. At the other end of the economy scale, though, I don't even have to break a sweat to hit the R8's claimed fuel figures. That's because so many of my recent miles have been airport runs and long-distance motorway schleps, where the auto is almost permanently in seventh and the V10 is humming to the gentle tune of 2000rpm.

On drives from Peterborough to Newcastle to visit family and friends, the A1 and A19 are no effort at all for our R8. On one occasion I saw 24mpg. Not doing the supercar thing properly? Perhaps, but it's costing me an arm and a leg in V-Power, so get your violins out.

By Jake Groves

Logbook: Audi R8 Spyder

Price £152,645 (£169,120 as tested) 
Performance 5204cc V10, 612bhp, 3.2sec 0-62mph, 204mph 
Efficiency 20.9-21.1mpg (official), 20.7mpg (tested), 302g/km CO2 
Energy cost 31.6p per mile 
Miles this month 1831
Total miles 9650


Month 2 living with an Audi R8 Spyder: a road trip to Le Mans 24hrs

R8 LTT Le Mans

Audi bailed out of the World Endurance Championship back in 2016, after a decade and a half of near-complete dominanace. Its swansong was the Audi Sport Team Joest R18, but the story began with the R8 – the R8R contested the 1999 race. Heck, even the R8 production car’s concept forebear was called the Le Mans Concept. 

So, when you’re invited to Le Mans, glamping, and with the opportunity to rub shoulders with some famous people (courtesy in my case of Aston Martin Racing, not Audi), taking our R8 to one of the most famous races on the planet is a no-brainer. I’ll be the closest thing to a 2019 Le Mans entry Audi Sport will have – hell, they should be paying me for this. 

Lumpy, congested British motorways and fast, clean French autoroutes generally don’t make for a particularly thrilling drive. But when you have 10 cylinders, a foldable roof and a near-continuous convoy of motorsport fans in similarly tasty cars all the way from Calais to Le Mans, you don’t stop smiling. At one point I even spend time in convoy with CAR’s James Taylor, who’s driving a Porsche 911 GT3 RS; some long tunnels allow for laugh-out-loud (and very childish) acceleration tests between the R8’s bassy midrange and the Porsche’s limiter-bouncing howls.

Audi R8 Spyder interior and cabin

I arrive at the campsite with no backache (the bucket seats are uncompromising but supportive) and ready for a weekend in any weather, the R8’s supposedly paltry frunk swallowing everything from T-shirts and shorts to chunky boots and a thick raincoat.

The weekend itself proves unforgettable. I come away exhausted and temporaily deaf but it will be hard to beat watching the sunrise at Tertre Rouge, taking a helicopter ride over the track mid-race and testing my own endurance by staying up most of the night. 

Then, on the misty Monday morning after, I do the whole trip back again with a similarly wide smile on my face. That is, of course, after a quick blast up and down the Mulsanne straight, sneaking a few pictures on the second chicane.

Any niggles? It’s a small one, but plenty of recent new Audis have an updated version of Virtual Cockpit that looks cleaner and comes with some cool graphics – something the A1 hatch gets but this facelifted supercar doesn’t, even though the two were launched at the same time. Oh, and there are a couple of creaks coming from the instrument cluster – again, not a dealbreaker, but evidence of the R8’s handmade origins.

By Jake Groves

Logbook: Audi R8 Spyder

Price £152,645 (£169,120 as tested)
Performance 5204cc V10, 612bhp, 3.2sec 0-62mph, 204mph
Efficiency 20.9-21.1mpg (official), 22.2mpg (tested), 302g/km CO2
Energy cost 30.1p per mile
Miles this month 3575
Total miles 7819


Month 1 of our Audi R8 Spyder long-term test: the introduction

Audi R8 Spyder long-term test by CAR magazine

From one end of the VW Group performance spectrum to the other. I've just handed back the keys to my VW Up GTI and, two years since my colleague James Taylor ran a pre-facelift Vegas Yellow 'Plus' coupe, an Audi R8 returns to the Our Cars fleet: this time with more power, more price and more exposure to the elements.

This is by far the fastest, loudest and most expensive long-term test car in our current line-up: 612bhp, 3.2sec 0-62mph with launch control, 204mph and one of the most exhilarating engines of recent years – Audi and Lamborghini's epic (and supposedly not long for this world) naturally-aspirated V10. Our Spyder's millions of miles of headroom is a bonus.

And boy am I revelling in the attention a £170k-all-in supercar gets you. There is a queue out of the door of people who either want it for the weekend or want a ride in it. So much that I'm debating keeping the key in a safe only I know the code to, or putting a 20ft sign on my driveway saying 'you must be this tall to ride'. It's mine, I tell you – MINE. Even out and about, this is up there with the BMW i8 for the level of stares from passers-by and it's a magnet for all kinds of motoring hooligan. Which can get annoying when there's a guy in a Fiesta ST with a unsilenced silencer less than six inches from the R8's bluff rear end.

Audi R8 LTT rear badge

In my messed-up mind, there are a couple of parallels between the Up and this. They both sound great, they're both practical for their class of car and they're both a bit of a performance bargain, even if the R8 is more than 10 times the price of the VW hatch. When a McLaren 600LT Spider is another £50k before options, is arguably less usable as a daily drive and absolutely does not come with a screaming V10, the Audi looks like good value.

The R8's flamboyant Italian cousin, the Huracan Evo Spyder, might have a touch more theatre and another 19bhp, but together are they worth £65k-(ish) more? I'm not so sure. That amount could get you a second, also-very-good car.

My first-ever drive of an R8 (I've somehow managed to miss every prior opportunity) was the regular blue coupe we featured in the May issue's Giant Test now part of our best sports cars page online, and I was a little underwhelmed. True, it sounds epic and it looks every inch a supercar, but it drove a little too much like an A3, understeered a bit too much for my liking, and low-rev grunt was lacking, too. Plus, the standard brakes fade too easily.

My car, being both a Performance R8 (with ceramic brakes as standard) and a Spyder, is a different kettle of fish. The brakes are an absolute godsend when you're on maximum attack, and the engine has a touch more low-rev bite. Its magnetic-ride adaptive dampers are also impressive, with a welcome suppleness when cruising. So, pretty much all my previous R8 gripes addressed from the off...

I mention cruising, but the R8 isn't a car you find yourself cruising in for long. Why would you when there's more than 600bhp under your right foot? I'm only in my first month with the R8 and I'm already finding excuses to drive new, longer and twistier routes everywhere – in fact I've actually ticked 'avoid motorways' on the nav a few times just for the hell of it.

But these are the lengths you'll go to feed your addiction to the V10. Acceleration is incredible and, together with the epic noise, entirely intoxicating.

Audi R8 LTT front cornering

The Audi offers Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual drive modes, selected via a button on the steering wheel. Performance models also feature a race flag button for lairy Performance mode: traction control off, snappier shifts and manual changes via the paddles. You can also twist that dial for dry, wet and snowy conditions. Launch control is there, too, and an absolute doddle to engage – pity the car's clutch...

Right now? I just want to drive. Switch to Individual mode (Comfort suspension, Dynamic everything else), roof down, sunglasses on, revs up and don't stop until it needs a drink. I've a feeling this is going to be a fun six months.

Our R8's key options

Just hold me
The £475 fixed-back race-spec seats are standard on Performance models but the part-leather, part-alcantara upholstery and blue stitching you see here are options. Skinny but supportive in all the right places.

B&O vs Audi V10
It's not often you'll want to drown out the V10, but when you do the optional (£1750) Bang & Olufsen sound system throws in surround speakers in the headrests with noise-cancellation tech.

20-inch rims
£1250 of forged aluminium beauty. Performance R8s run on 19s as standard, but if you don't pick these gorgeous 20s you're doing something wrong.

Audi R8 Spyder 20-inch alloy wheels

Magnetic Ride
A £1700 option that's already proving its worth on motorway cruises. Passive dampers on regular R8s are manageable but firm; this adaptive set-up means Comfort mode really is comfortable.

Laser-assisted headlights
The most expensive extra at £3150, spotted via their unique blue lens accents, they're designed to double the length of your high beam. They come with their own radiation warning labels, but unlike Cyclops from X-Men there's no destructive potential here. Lame.

Logbook: Audi R8 Spyder Performance

Price £152,645 (£169,120 as tested)
Performance 5204cc V10, 612bhp, 3.2sec 0-62mph, 204mph
Efficiency 20.9-21.1mpg (official), 17.5mpg (tested), 302g/km CO2
Energy cost 37.3 per mile
Miles this month 1483
Total miles 4244

Check out our Audi reviews

By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

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